Daniela Sneppova
"Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance, 1968 to 1989"
November 10, 2011 – January 12, 2012
The Gallery of Czech Center New York, Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, New York City, NY 10021
Opening reception:
November 10, 6:30-8:30
Hours: Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri: 106; Tues: 10–7

Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance presents 120 rarely seen handmade books, journals, and other original works on paper that circulated secretly during the years between the Prague Spring and the Velvet Revolution. The multimedia exhibition also includes period footage of underground concerts and bootleg recordings of banned Czech bands.

Literally meaning “self-published,” samizdat is a Russian term referring to underground publications that flourished in the USSR and Soviet bloc under repressive communist rule. Copies of an essay, a book, a series of poems, or articles were generated in small batches, most commonly using a typewriter with carbon paper or a small printing press. Blending political dissidence with esthetic innovation, samizdat was passed from person to person through clandestine networks.

Creating and disseminating ideas or art—even if non-political—that did not conform to official ideology was considered to be an act against the state. This could, and did, lead to imprisonment for many of those found to be participating in this “unofficial culture.” Samizdat explores how these seemingly small acts of opposition played a crucial role in resisting the totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia, which was eventually displaced by the leaders of underground culture—including such producers of samizdat as writer and first president of Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel. The exhibition also explores other forms of cultural resistance and includes examples of artist projects, music and video documents of undergound events.

Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance was organized by Czech Center NY and curated by Daniela Sneppova. It is part of Roads to Freedom: Czech Alternative Culture before 1989, a series of events celebrating the Czech holiday Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day (Den boje za svobodu a demokracii)Roads to Freedom also includes a two-day symposium on samizdat presented in conjunction with New York University Prague; a concert by seminal Czech underground band Garage (Garáž); a Velvet Revolution party; and screenings of two underground films (see below for further information).

Press contact:
Adam Husted

Roads to Freedom
Czech Alternative Culture before 1989
November 2012

Czechoslovak Samizdat
Bohemian National Hall, November 10–11
Symposium organized by Czech Center NY in collaboration with New York University Prague.
Samizdat events are organized under the auspices of Václav Havel.

Bohemian National Hall, November 17
Czech underground band Garage (Garáž) plays.

Velvet Revolution Party
LAVO, 39 E 58th Street, November 18
Organized by the Czech and Slovak Consulates General, Czech Center NY, and +421 Foundation.

The Film Club of Czech Center NY presents “Films From the Safe”
An historical exhibition of underground publications from Czechoslovakia from this period.

Bohemian National Hall, November 8
The Ear, Karel Kachyna, 1970
A senior Communist official and his wife discover that their house is riddled with listening devices planted by his own ministry.

Bohemian National Hall, November 22
Larks on a String, Jirí Menzel, 1969
An odd assortment of bourgeoisie and female prisoners are “re-educated” by working in a junkyard in this comedy set in the late 1940s.


"Samizdats" were objects to have and to hold and to hide.

"Samizdats" were small acts of resistance that challenged the Soviet regime.

"Samizdats" were works of art that circulated secretly and inspired thousands.

"Samizdats" were dangerous: produced, distributed and consumed at great personal risk.